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Family of Slain Tourist Bewildered, Outraged by Dropped Murder Charges

April 3, 2007 — Family members of a slain Bronx tourist, murdered on St. Thomas in 2005 along with a friend, said they were bewildered by the V.I. Justice Department's mishandling of the double homicide, which resulted in murder charges dropped against the only two suspects Monday (See "Charges Against Brothers Dropped in Murder of New York Tourists").
The case against brothers Akil and Jahmal Hart, who police said gunned down Leon Roberts and Tristan Charlier in June 2005, were dropped because of a lack of sufficient evidence, Attorney General Vincent Frazer said Monday.
Authorities continue to investigate the killing outside the Frenchtown Post Office and can refile charges against the Hart brothers if more evidence is found.
But Roberts' father, Desmond Roberts, asked how much new evidence can be found after nearly two years of investigating.
Roberts, a father of eight who lives in Queens, New York, spent 15 years with the Georgetown, Guyana police force. He said he was outraged by the V.I. Justice Department's missteps.
I keep thinking it's a bad dream and I'm going to wake up. But it's not," Roberts said. "I've got a lot of questions, man. A lot of questions."
A public feud between former Attorney General Kerry Drue and prosecutors in her office hindered investigation and prosecution of the case, Roberts said.
"What are they going to find now? What evidence is fresh? This is my son I'm speaking about. This is my son!" Roberts said by telephone. "This is a serious case. This is a double murder."
The obvious bungle, Roberts said, was putting the prosecution's lone witness to the crime, an admitted crack abuser, in a cell near other prisoners.
The witness, Goshnell "Foma" Walters, allegedly wrote a jailhouse recantation later last year in which he claimed police and prosecutors forced him to finger the Hart brothers as the shooters.
The document is widely speculated to have been dictated to former police detective Joel Dowdye, who was allegedly in an adjacent cell to Walters'. Dowdye was later convicted of first-degree murder and assault charges for killing his ex-girlfriend and seriously wounding a St. Croix radio personality.
"The people in charge, they got to be accountable for what they do. This is nonsense. How you going to put an eyewitness in with other prisoners? Come on, man," Roberts said.
Leon Roberts' sister, Samantha Roberts, said the news that the charges were to be dropped sent her parents into tears.
Samantha said she carries a picture of Leon with her every day.
"We don't have anything to look forward to," she said. "I want the people who did this to my brother and his friend to pay for it, because we have to pay for it every day."
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April 3, 2007 -- Family members of a slain Bronx tourist, murdered on St. Thomas in 2005 along with a friend, said they were bewildered by the V.I. Justice Department's mishandling of the double homicide, which resulted in murder charges dropped against the only two suspects Monday (See "Charges Against Brothers Dropped in Murder of New York Tourists").
The case against brothers Akil and Jahmal Hart, who police said gunned down Leon Roberts and Tristan Charlier in June 2005, were dropped because of a lack of sufficient evidence, Attorney General Vincent Frazer said Monday.
Authorities continue to investigate the killing outside the Frenchtown Post Office and can refile charges against the Hart brothers if more evidence is found.
But Roberts' father, Desmond Roberts, asked how much new evidence can be found after nearly two years of investigating.
Roberts, a father of eight who lives in Queens, New York, spent 15 years with the Georgetown, Guyana police force. He said he was outraged by the V.I. Justice Department's missteps.
I keep thinking it's a bad dream and I'm going to wake up. But it's not," Roberts said. "I've got a lot of questions, man. A lot of questions."
A public feud between former Attorney General Kerry Drue and prosecutors in her office hindered investigation and prosecution of the case, Roberts said.
"What are they going to find now? What evidence is fresh? This is my son I'm speaking about. This is my son!" Roberts said by telephone. "This is a serious case. This is a double murder."
The obvious bungle, Roberts said, was putting the prosecution's lone witness to the crime, an admitted crack abuser, in a cell near other prisoners.
The witness, Goshnell "Foma" Walters, allegedly wrote a jailhouse recantation later last year in which he claimed police and prosecutors forced him to finger the Hart brothers as the shooters.
The document is widely speculated to have been dictated to former police detective Joel Dowdye, who was allegedly in an adjacent cell to Walters'. Dowdye was later convicted of first-degree murder and assault charges for killing his ex-girlfriend and seriously wounding a St. Croix radio personality.
"The people in charge, they got to be accountable for what they do. This is nonsense. How you going to put an eyewitness in with other prisoners? Come on, man," Roberts said.
Leon Roberts' sister, Samantha Roberts, said the news that the charges were to be dropped sent her parents into tears.
Samantha said she carries a picture of Leon with her every day.
"We don't have anything to look forward to," she said. "I want the people who did this to my brother and his friend to pay for it, because we have to pay for it every day."
Back Talk


Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.